Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: The Barber of Seville
Broadcast of Saturday, December 22, 1:00 P.M.
Rosina is finally united with her suitor, Count Almaviva (Leonard, Javier Camarena as Almaviva)
© Beth Bergman 2012
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The Barber of Seville
Music by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini, after the play by Beaumarchais
English translation by J. D. McClatchy
THE CAST (in order of vocal appearance)
Fiorello baritone, LUTHANDO QAVE
Count Almaviva tenor, ALEK SHRADER
Figaro baritone, RODION POGOSSOV
Rosina mezzo, ISABEL LEONARD
Dr. Bartolo bass-bar., JOHN DEL CARLO
Ambrogio actor, ROB BESSERER
Don Basilio bass, JORDAN BISCH
Berta soprano, CLAUDIA WAITE
Sergeant tenor, MARK SCHOWALTER
Conducted by YVES ABEL
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Production: Bartlett Sher
Set designer: Michael Yeargan
Costume designer: Catherine Zuber
Lighting designer: Christopher Akerlind
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Dennis Giauque,
Gregory Buchalter, Robert Morrison
Assistant stage directors: Daniel Rigazzi,
Kathleen Smith Belcher
Recitative accompanist: Robert Morrison
English coach: Erie Mills
Abridged production a gift of
Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer J. Thomas, Jr.
Original production a gift of
The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund
||(Seville, 19th c.)
| Sc. 1
||Outside Bartolo's house,
| Sc. 2
||Inside his house, morning
| Sc. 1
||The music room, evening
| Sc. 2
||Inside the house, that night
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
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This performance is also being broadcast
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Maurizio Muraro as Dr. Bartolo and Isabel Leonard as
his ward, Rosina, in Bartlett Sher's Metropolitan Opera
production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia
© Beth Bergman 2012
ACT I. Seville. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Doctor Bartolo and serenades Rosina, whom Bartolo keeps confined to the house, beneath her balcony window. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town's secrets and scandals, arrives. He explains to Almaviva that Rosina is Bartolo's ward, not his daughter, and that the doctor intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier with orders to be quartered at Bartolo's house so that he may gain access to the girl. Almaviva is excited and Figaro looks forward to a nice cash pay-off.
Rosina reflects on the voice that has enchanted her and resolves to use her considerable wiles to meet its owner, whom the count leads her to believe is a poor student named Lindoro. Bartolo appears with Rosina's music master, Don Basilio. Basilio warns Bartolo that Count Almaviva, who has made known his admiration for Rosina, has been seen in Seville. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately. Figaro, who has overheard the plot, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a note from her to Lindoro. Bartolo suspects that Rosina has indeed written a letter, but she outwits him at every turn. Angry at her defiance, Bartolo warns her not to trifle with him.
Almaviva arrives, creating a ruckus in his disguise as a drunken soldier, and secretly passes Rosina his own note. Bartolo is infuriated by the stranger's behavior and noisily claims that he has an official exemption from billeting soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered in the street, curious about the argument they hear coming from inside the house. The civil guard bursts in to arrest Almaviva but when he secretly reveals his true identity to the captain he is instantly released. Everyone except Figaro is amazed by this turn of events.
ACT II. Bartolo suspects that the "soldier" was a spy planted by Almaviva. The count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music teacher and student of Don Basilio. He announces he will give Rosina her music lesson in place of Basilio, who, he says, is ill at home. "Don Alonso" tells Bartolo that he is staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found a letter from Rosina. He offers to tell her that it was given to him by another woman, seemingly to prove that Lindoro is toying with Rosina on Almaviva's behalf. This convinces Bartolo that "Don Alonso" is indeed a student of the scheming Basilio, and he allows him to give Rosina her music lesson. She sings an aria, and, with Bartolo dozing off, Almaviva and Rosina express their love.
Figaro arrives to give Bartolo his shave and manages to snatch the key that opens the doors to Rosina's balcony. Suddenly Basilio shows up looking perfectly healthy. Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro convince him with a quick bribe that he is sick with scarlet fever and must go home at once. While Bartolo gets his shave, Almaviva plots with Rosina to elope that night. But the doctor overhears them and furiously realizes he has been tricked again. Everyone disperses.
Bartolo summons Basilio, telling him to bring a notary so Bartolo can marry Rosina that very night. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro, as proof that he is in league with Almaviva. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, she agrees to marry Bartolo. A thunderstorm rages. Figaro and the count climb a ladder to Rosina's balcony and let themselves in with the key. Rosina appears and confronts Lindoro, who finally reveals his true identity as Almaviva. Basilio shows up with the notary. Bribed and threatened, he agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Bartolo arrives with soldiers, but it is too late. Almaviva explains to Bartolo that it is useless to protest and Bartolo accepts that he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina, and the count celebrate their good fortune.
The show-stopping entrance of Figaro, Seville's multi-tasking barber (Peter Mattei)
© Beatriz Schiller 2012
Gioachino Rossini's own tragicomic life story began on February 29,
1792, in Pesaro, where his father, a local "character," performed a
Figaro-like round of duties as slaughterhouse inspector, town crier and
sometime republican revolutionary. The mother being a soprano,
Gioachino's parents toured provincial theaters, where the father played
horn in orchestras and the boy studied horn, viola, piano and voice.
After rising to eminence in Italy, Rossini met Beethoven, who urged him
to "Give us more Barbers," but the younger composer persisted in writing serious works as well. The capstone of his achievement was Guillaume Tell, a French grand opera created when he was thirty-seven, after his move to Paris.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia, a product of Rossini's early
twenties, was drawn from the first of three satirical plays about the
barber Figaro by Beaumarchais. Rossini had several precursors in setting
this subject, notably Giovanni Paisiello in 1782. At the premiere, at
Rome's Argentina Theater on February 20, 1816, accidents onstage
coincided with a cabal against the management by partisans of the rival
Paisiello to create an all-out fiasco.
Rossini's work quickly rallied and enjoyed success elsewhere. Its
first American production, in English, was at New York's Park Theater on
May 3, 1819. The Met premiere came early in the first season of the
newly built Opera House, on November 23, 1883, with Marcella Sembrich, a
high coloratura soprano, as Rosina. The work is shared nowadays by
mezzo-sopranos in the composer's original version, with some of the
numbers in lower keys, and vocal runs going down instead of up. The
current Met production, staged by Bartlett Sher, was first seen on
November 10, 2006.
Rosina plots with Figaro (Leonard, Mattei)
© Beth Bergman 2012
WHAT TO READ AND HEAR
Gaia Servadio's Rossini is a lively, well-researched modern life of the composer (Carroll and Graf). Stendahl's classic nineteenth-century biography is available in paperback from Orion. The Cambridge Companion to Rossini, edited by Emanuele Senici, is a good place to begin study of the operas themselves (Cambridge).
On CD, Roberta Peters is caught at her zenith performing with a cast of Metropolitan Opera regulars (RCA), and Maria Callas (EMI), whose charming 1957 studio performance under Galliera belies her onstage failure in the role a year earlier, at La Scala, under Giulini. The peerless Victoria de los Angeles recorded Barbiere twice (both EMI); her later performance pairs her purring Rosina with the elegant Almaviva of Luigi Alva. Beverly Sills, Sherrill Milnes and Nicolai Gedda bring old-pro verve to a 1974 Barbiere, paced with precision by James Levine (EMI). The only English-language performance currently available on CD is the 1994 ENO recording conducted by Gabriele Bellini, with Della Jones, an especially ripe-toned Rosina, Bruce Ford and Alan Opie.
On DVD, Juan Diego Flórez and Joyce DiDonato are in dazzling form as Almaviva and Rosina at Covent Garden (Virgin). Ferruccio Furlanetto's Basilio joins Maria Ewing (Rosina) and John Rawnsley (Figaro) in John Cox's fresh, lively Glyndebourne Barbiere from 1987, conducted by Sylvain Cambreling (Kultur) The dewy charm of twenty-two-year-old Cecilia Bartoli's Rosina is the chief attraction in the 1988 Schwetzingen Festival Barbiere (Arthaus); Jennifer Larmore's more earthy heroine centers Dario Fo's unconventional Barbiere from Nederlandse Opera (Image Entertainment). The extravagant comic antics of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's La Scala production, filmed in 1974, will not be to all tastes, but the principals — Alva, Teresa Berganza and Hermann Prey — and Claudio Abbado's witty, fleet conducting are all first-rate (DG; also DG CD). The 2007 HD transmission of Met's current Bartlett Sher staging, conducted by Maurizio Benini, is available for viewing as part of Met Opera on Demand.
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